34 Child L. Prac. 1 (2015)

handle is hein.journals/chilawpt34 and id is 1 raw text is: 


Supporting the Mental Health of Trauma-Exposed
         Children in the Child Welfare System
                            by Lisa Conradi

.T ou are an attorney working in the dependency court system
.11- representing an adolescent with severe behavior problems.
You are doing your best to help this adolescent, but she continues
to be oppositional, blowing out of placements repeatedly. You are
concerned she will cross into the juvenile delinquency system. The
adolescent has experienced significant abuse and neglect and you
wonder if those experiences could be related to her current
behavior? What mental health interventions could help stabilize
and put her on a healthy developmental path'?

    The prevalence of potentially
traumatic events in court-involved
children and adolescents is high (see
the first article in this series, Under-
standing Trauma and Its Impact on
Child Clients, in the September 2014
CLP for definitions of types of tramna
and information on its prevalence in
court-involved children and adoles-
cents). As a result, they may display
challenging behav iors and reactions
that may be related to the trauma
they have experienced. Therefore,
it is critical that court professionals
understand the impact of trauma on
the child's reactions, behaviors, and
relationships. This article highlights
these behaviors and how they impact
relationships and functioning.

Know how a child's trauma

history influences behavior.
Trauma-exposed children may exhibit
a range of complex emotional and
behavioral responses to events they
have experienced. When working with
a child or adolescent who has expe-
rienced trauna, it is important to be
sensitive to the ways in which a child's
trauma history affects the child's
current behavior. The behavior of a
child exposed to trauma can reflect
his efforts to adapt to overwhelming
stress and may be difficult to identify
and manage. For example, a child may
reenact aspects of his trauma (e.g.,
aggression, self-injurious behaviors,
or sexualized behaviors) in response
to a reminder of a previous traumatic
event, or as an attempt to gain mastery
or control over her experiences.

Be aware of the child's
trauma triggers.
A trauna reminder is any person,

place, situation, sensation, feeling,
or thing that reminds a child of a
previously experienced traumatic
event. When faced with these remind-
ers, a child may re-experience the
intense and disturbing feelings tied
to the original trauma. These trauma
reminders can lead to behaviors
that seem out of place in the current
situation but were appropriate-and
perhaps e% en helpful-at the time
of the original traumatic event. For
example, a child may be triggered by
events as conscious as seeing a person
or place connected to the trauma. or as
subconscious as certain smells, lights,
or sounds that are reminiscent of the
trauma. (Sidebar I highlights trau-
matic responses by age.)
                      (Wont' on p 6.)
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